A Spot of Tea

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I recently realized that the older we get, the more most of us wish we had paid a little more attention in school. For some, they wish they could remember more of their math lessons; for others, it’s literature, and for me, it’s history. When textbooks popped open to learn about wars and presidents, my head always went into the clouds. But as an adult, when I pass by major landmarks, I find myself constantly Googling. It makes me wish I could remember some of the trivia that was probably right there in those textbooks.

One of my biggest history fascinations in NYC has been The Plaza Hotel (which, for the record, was built in 1907, took two years and $12 million to build—unprecedented at the time.) So when one of my best friends invited me to a birthday tea party there hosted by her lovely mother, I was excited for weeks, imagining all of us dolled up, soaking in the grandeur like it was the 1920s. And it was grand, indeed. We had a three-hour, Eloise-themed sit-down in the Palm Court, an ode to the six-year-old star of the children’s book series. Of course, there was tea, plus mini-peanut butter and jellies, scones, and tiny cupcakes on three-tiered servers.

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Staring up at the vaulted glass ceilings and looming palm trees, I felt like I could’ve been Zelda Fitzgerald on a tea date with Scott—before tea turned into orange blossoms spiked with gin. But I was glad to be me, in a pretty dress surrounded by other women (in pretty dresses themselves) who uplift and inspire me. (And crack me up. Seriously, we need a reality show.)

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I think tea is now officially, well…my cup of tea. And not just because of the magic of the Plaza and the comforting drink (which had me briefly considering making the switch from coffee before I asked myself Who are you kidding?), but because of the idea of taking a break from your day to sit down with friends to eat, drink, and enjoy one another’s company—no cell phones included. Why can’t we all sit for tea with our girlfriends more often? Frolic in the fountain outside like the Fitzgeralds once (allegedly) did? Wander the hotel’s hallways like the mischievous Eloise?

True to my inner nerd, when I got home (well, after a champagne after-party at my apartment, because what’s tea at the Plaza without a Gatsby-like moment?) I did some research, and discovered the hotel offers a free 45-minute tour of the Renaissance-style chateau. Who’s down to go with me? If you come, I promise we can sit down for tea afterward.

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It’s a Party, It’s a Party, It’s a Party!

Ever since I moved into a one bedroom, I’ve been looking for any and all opportunities to have get-togethers. I’m a hostess at heart: I love planning, decorating, and getting the people that make me happiest together in one place for a good time. (I even joked with my friends that I might have an Arbor Day gathering. But really, why not?) So when July 4th came around, I knew it was time to host a par-tay to celebrate our great nation…in other words, have an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry.

As soon as I told one of my good friends and fellow magazine editors about the gathering, she passed along the party-in-a-box she’d been sent at her job, a creation by the new company Revelry House. The kit is full of every adorable thing an eager 20-something party-thrower might need to have a great July 4th bash, and I was ecstatic when I found out the business was co-founded by Lo Bosworth, the beloved sidekick from Laguna Beach and The Hills. (I was actually just lamenting about missing those shows with my friends. Admit it: Real or not, they were addicting).

In my box: Blue-and-white paper straws, sparkly American-themed cupcake toppers, star confetti, an American flag scarf, cardboard dining trays, bamboo cutlery, and more. The boxes are a bit pricey, at $189, but they eliminate the need to spend hours shopping, budgeting, and planning. And what I love most about the idea is that the box gives you all the tools you need to throw a great shindig, but you can also make them uniquely your own. For instance, in addition to the flag, bicycle, and rocket shaped toppers, I threw some blue and red sprinkles onto the white icing of my cupcakes; the confetti went on the table and inside the red balloons (and although it got everywhere, it was totally worth it); the flag scarf became my tablecloth, and the blue and white straws went swimmingly with the red signature cocktail I’d already planned.

Some photo evidence that I actually pulled this off:

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And guess what? The July 4th party-in-a-box also included sparklers, which I tried out on my balcony at the end of the night w/ my besties. Nice work, Lo—I’ll definitely be checking out the Birthday and Bachelorette Boxes, whenever one of my friends decides to tie the knot next.

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Girls…We Run This Mutha’…


image courtesy of collegecandy.com

So instead of a long ramble about all the things that have kept me from posting this past year (late nights at work, writer’s block, Mad Men marathons on Netflix) I’m just going to dive in to posting again (thanks, Channing, for the motivation—I’ve missed this space!)

On a blog about being a 20-something living in New York, I basically have no choice but to write about the phenomenon that is HBO’s show Girls. I was reluctant at first to give in to the peer pressure, as it was hyped to be a new, hipstery version of Sex and the City, with (yet again) no brown faces. But after a few weeks of hearing a co-worker gush constantly about the story lines and her love for the characters, I decided to give it a shot.

Two hours later, I had watched four episodes and was dying for more. Every Sunday night I checked HBO Go (thanks, Dad, for letting me mooch off your account!) to see if the latest episode was up. The season finale aired last week, and I felt a sudden emptiness knowing it was over. Beyond the hype, the series is undeniably hilarious and realistic. Case in point: in one episode, the main character, Hannah, finds out she has HPV and, after discussing the diagnosis with her friends (including the guy she’s sleeping with) she finds herself at home, depressed and trying to think of something clever to say on Twitter. She then puts on Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and busts into a random, awkward solo dance session. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself dancing alone in my apartment to a sugary pop song to make myself feel better.

The show’s biggest criticism has been its lack of diversity. But to me, it doesn’t matter. Yes, Hannah the main character and her three friends are all white, but I thought that as a culture, we’d agreed upon the fact that most people hang out with people that look like them in like, 1990. Time to get over it. I didn’t even think about it as I was watching the show because, no matter your background, every girl can relate to dating the guy that says awkward things in bed, or scouring through Facebook for hours when your ex gets a new girlfriend, or having that one friend who has an unhealthy obsession with SATC.

And then there’s the realistic portrayal of living in New York as a young person on a barely-there salary: Asking your parents to help you make rent, ending up at a random warehouse party in Brooklyn, falling asleep on the subway and waking up at Coney Island. The writing is so smart and witty that I both love and hate the show’s creator, Lena Dunham, simply because she took the average girl’s life, made it into a show, and is now on her way to being a television and Hollywood darling—at only 26. Why didn’t I think of that?! Hate aside, I just read that they’ve wrapped up shooting season 2. I’m already ready for Girls to return—maybe by next season, I’ll be able to afford watching it on the actual HBO channel rather than my laptop.

Floor 36 Book Review: Platinum

Image courtesy of AliyaSKing.com

Last night, I met Aliya S. King at the Columbus Circle Borders book signing of her new book “Platinum.” I’ve followed her career for a few years now–she’s a talented and experienced magazine journalist with a hilarious and entertaining blog, so when I got my hands on an advanced copy of “Platinum” a few months ago, I was eager to read it. A few weeks ago, I had sent Aliya a review of the book that I intended to post on my blog.

After she read it, I didn’t want to post it since I wanted it to just be for her, but when she told me last night that she truly appreciated it, I decided to share an abridged version on the blog.

“Platinum” by Aliya S King: 4/5 Stars

I started reading it on Friday of Memorial Day weekend and finished it Sunday night, and the only reason it even took that long was because I had the typical Memorial Day cookouts and trips to the pool in between. I’ll admit, at first, I was a little weary because of the title. The name “Platinum” sounded like street lit, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But from knowing King’s work (her Vibe story on the death of Al Green’s gf was seriously eye-opening–check it out HERE) I knew it would be a great read, and from the first chapter I was literally riveted and had to keep reading from chapter to chapter.

The book is a look into the lives of fictional wives and significant others of rappers and entertainers. There are not-so-thinly veiled references to real stars (if you read the book, I see Jake and Kipenzi as Beyonce and Jay-z, Clare and Zander as Rihanna and Chris Brown, etc. King revealed at the reading last night that Z and his wife are loosely based off DMX and his wife Tashera). The book is truly supported by King’s writing from each character’s perspective. She really created personalities and points of views for each persona that made it hard for me to pick a favorite–I even felt empathy for Cleo, the character that closely emulates Karinne aka Superhead. Also, the way King leaves the reader hanging at the end of each chapter makes you want to speed through to find out what happens next, and left me grateful to hear that King signed a book deal for the sequel.

The negative: it did feel like a more modern version of a book I had read before (it really, especially with the cover art, reminded me of Erica Kennedy’s “Bling”) but I think that comes along with the genre and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Books about the hip-hop/r&b industry with hidden references to real people are all kind of in the same realm. I think, however, that the audience that’s reading these kinds of books need something that isn’t just trashy and all about drugs and video girls but something that’s smart and funny, which King provided.

So overall, it wasn’t exactly a deep-life changing book, but it’s great for the lighthearted who are looking for a really entertaining and accurate portrayal of the world of hip-hop and the music industry. And as King said last night, when she used to think about writing a book, she thought of deep, African-American, Zora Neale Hurston style literature. But then she shared that she realized, at the end of the day, “writers just write.” And as an aspiring author myself, that’s a quote I’ll never forget.

Diaz + NYC Bazaar Shoot = Love

Two obvious statements: I adore magazines. I adore New York. Pair those adorations with a girl crush on Cameron Diaz, and you can see why Harper’s Bazaar’s August spread with Diaz = love.

She looks stunning, and the NYC backdrop is the icing on the cake. I literally hugged the issue to my chest in excitement when I saw this image on the cover (for Subscriber Copies):

Here are my other two favorites:

You can check out the rest here.